More Good Reasons to Eat Fruits and Vegetables

By Susan Littlefield

For years we've been told that, in terms of weight loss, it's not what you eat but how much that matters. If you eat fewer calories, you'll lose weight, regardless of where those calories come from.

Some new research is dispelling that idea. According to Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School and co-author of a study published in the June 23 New England Journal of Medicine, "Our results demonstrate that the quality of the diet -- the types of foods and beverages one consumes -- are strongly linked to weight gain."

As explained in an article in the July 30, 2011 issue of Science News, the study combined data from three long-term surveys that included information from more than 22,000 men and nearly 100,000 women. None of the participants were obese to begin with, and all had their weight gains or losses monitored every four years. Participants added an average of 3.35 pounds at each four-year interval.

What caused people to pack on pounds? Potatoes, especially those made into French fries, were one of the worst culprits. A serving of French fries daily added 3.35 pounds over four years on average; a single serving bag of potato chips added 1.69 pounds; and boiled, mashed, or baked spuds added half a pound. Drinking just one non-diet soft drink a day added one pound every four years. Other sugar and/or fat-heavy foods like butter and desserts, red meat, refined grains, and foods with added trans fats added less than a pound.

The good news is that adding a daily serving of fruit or nuts resulted in a weight loss of about a half a pound. Eating a serving of yogurt was even more beneficial, which took off nearly a pound over four years. An extra serving of whole grains, vegetables (other than potatoes), and diet soft drinks helped with slight weight reductions.

The researchers note that, while a few pounds over four years may not seem like a lot, that gradual accumulation of excess weight is what is helping fuel the epidemic of obesity in this country. All the more reason to expand your gardening efforts to provide a steady supply of those beneficial fruits and veggies to add to your diet.

For more information on how food choices matter in weight control, go to: Science News.

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